Reviewing portrayals of disability in TV: The story of Tracy Beaker

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So I thought this would be a fun lil project to work on, working my way through various TV shows/episodes and reviewing them on the disability representation in the show. To start, The Story of Tracy Beaker because it was a childhood favourite and I’ve really enjoyed rewatching it! I also now want to read Jaqueline Wilsons newer Tracy Beaker books even though I’m 22 and currently am struggling to find time to read but that’s beside the point. The two characters I want to focus on for this are Layla and Millie.

Layla 

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Layla has Cerebral Palsy and a big positive is that she is played by an actress with this condition. Disabled actors playing disabled characters is rare in TV and film so I definitely appreciate this! Other pros are:

  • She has a great personality and is a solid character whom viewers can easily become endeared with for reasons other than her disability
  • We get to see the reality of missing out on things when your disabled or have a chronic illness in the episode where she has to miss an exciting day of school for a physio appointment that ends up getting cancelled. Layla not wanting to miss school helps debunk stigma that disabled people are just lazy or the belief that they are lucky to get to miss days of school
  • We see issues with accessibility and  when Duke says “first one to the table” and Layla is unable to run as fast as the others.
  • Tracy uses her age and height as well as able body to get her wings back from Michael. Seeing Layla fit in with the other kids so well and seeing the other kids help her when she needs it but not being overly pushy or protective or pitying sends an important message that disabled children are just children and deserve to be treated with the same respect and in the same way as any other similar child, providing necessary accommodations are made.
  • She seems independent and intelligent for a child of her age through her lines and the fact that she does household chores like everyone else – this is very important for two reasons, one to help dispel the whole disabled people are a burden myth and secondly to show that not all disabled people are stupid.

Cons

  • The only con I really have is that she didn’t get fostered but that’s reality sadly. Although she’s young and cute, having a disability does make her less likely to get fostered.

Milly

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Millie is non verbal until she gets fostered and then she says the best line to Elaine.

Pros

  • The other dumping ground kids suspect her of weird goings on and think she’s scary but eventually realise she’s a scared kid and they should be nice to her
  • Her friendship with Marco and her eventually getting fostered with him
  • Even without lines we see her personality and emotions

Cons

  •  I wish she got more screen time
  • I know Elaine is a pain but I really don’t like how she pity’s and patronises Millie just because she doesn’t speak.

Overall I would give the representation of disability in The Story of Tracy Beaker an 8.5/10! Although this is only my opinion.

There will also be one coming on Tracy Beaker Returns/The dumping ground some point soon so watch this space!

If you have any TV shows and characters to recommend for this series leave it in the comments.

 

 

Should Goverment, Doctors and Media have have right to tell us what to eat and what not to eat?

Do you know someone who has an eating disorder? Have you seen how damaging they are? Is it possible today’s society has lead to a rise in cases of eating disorders and disorderd eating?

We are surrounded by media. Social networking, newspapers, magazines, Tv, Radio. The goverment is never shy to spread opinions on what we should and should not be eating 5-a-day. Or is it 7? Then there’s that change4life initiative, which is a goverment initiative, using the media to get it’s point across. The Media itself has told many food horror stories The debate between fat and sugar, how excess carbohydrates will make us fat. Contradicting comments on almost everything, it’s all just a little overwhelming! The rise of “Thisperation”. Pro-ana/Pro-mia sites. Vunerable pre-teens and teens have easy access to these sites, day upon day upon day. As a suffer of an eating disorder myself and haqving previously visited these sites I can say that to a pre-disposed mind, there is something about thinspo pictures which are quite enchanting, beautiful. It is also a place people can find friends, for someone with no friends you can see this could cause real problems.

Some say diets don’t work. Some suggest 5:2 or weight watchers. All involve some sort of restriction which can go in either one of to ways and has probably infact lead to an increase in obesity. You say a food is “Bad” you’ll want more of it. You restrict yourself then you want more. Your body craves more. You eat more. The other way restriction can go is leading to an eating disorder, suggesting you have a genetic pre-disposition and you would be surprised by how fast they can take hold.

A huge proportion of people in today’s western world has some form of disordered eating, spurred on by media and goverment. The “fat phobia” many people face. This also discourages people with eating disorders from getting help. They think what they’re doing is normal. The super-skinny celebrities, obsessing over sclothing size and stick thin models. People belive being skinny is right, being skinny is good. There is a commmon association that by being skinny you will be sucsessful. Now you can see how that leads to eating disorders. Right?

Eating disorders are of course an extreme but clearly something has changed to cause the rise. Children as young as 5 even are developing eating disorders. With the increase in media, it would be logical to suggest that is partially a reason for the rise, we are contantly bombarded with health advice, diet tips. Things that not so long ago we were not. It would be logical for the media to be a partial cause. Seeing the effects the media can have, why should they give us diet advice, health tips and all the rest of it? It’s harmful to all, more to some than others.

Going back to the goverment, school curriculums. Teaching children about food and nutrition from a young age. Lat year my brother came home from school one day, decided he couldn’t eat a cake because they are “bad for us.” He was six then! Isn’t is sad that a child who is slim, healthy and eats a balanced diet feels they can’t have a cake because of a lesson at school. We’re constantly reciving lessons of health and nutrition. Actually part of the AQA B1 spec is learning about BMI. Does this not flag up an issue for you? Take a 14/15 year old girl, wants to lose weight and realises according to that BMI chart her BMI is slightly over what is classed as healthy. Mix that with a perfectionistic personality, maybe recently divorced parents or bullying and you have created the perfect confitions for an eating disorder.

I do however realise the opposing veiw and understand it. To me healthy eating is just common sense and I belive all of us have the ability to eat intuitivly, others may struggle. Going back to the goverment, parents may eat unhealthy diets and it is important for the schools to teach children about healthy eating in this case, so they can make good desisions as adults and lead healthy lives. Then there is the issue of doctors If a patient has a weight problem. Either over or underweight then the doctor should work with them on a personal basis to help improve things. The same goes for when a patient is suffering from a condition which could be cured by a change in diet. Doctors should work with the patient on a personal basis, maybe refer them on to a dietistion or a nutritionist. Then there is the issue of the Media. “Supersize vs superskinny” and other such shows can be seen as light entertainment. That is what they are right? They shouldn’t trigger or lead to an eating disorder and people should be responsable enough to make the decision to watch it or not. No ones forced to watch these shows, they shouldn’t be banned just because they have triggered or lead to a few eating disorders. That’s not fair on everyone else.

In conclusion I do not think the media or the goverment should tell us what and what not to eat, and if they do it should be regulated, less contradictary and have more research into whatever is being said. I belive thos because of the effects today’s society can have on innocent indaviduals; doctors however should be allowed to tell us what we should and shouldn’t eat if properly trained in that area. This should only be on a one to one basis if in best intrest of the patient.